Subjects, Events and Licensing

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Subjects, Events and Licensing
Heidi Britton Harley
Bachelor of Arts,

Linguistics and English

Memorial University of Newfoundland


Submitted to the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the

degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

August 1995

© 1995 Heidi Harley

All rights reserved

The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly

paper and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.

Signature of Author ..................................................................................................................

Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

June 19, 1995

Certified by .............................................................................................................................

Alec P. Marantz

Thesis Supervisor

Accepted by .............................................................................................................................

Wayne O'Neil

Head, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

Subjects, Events and Licensing


Heidi Britton Harley

Submitted to the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics

While the notion of “subject” as a primitive of grammar is in some way encoded in most modern syntactic theories, the cluster of syntactic properties attributed to subjects is not a homogenous one. This thesis aims to precisely characterize certain of these properties, partially through an investigation of constructions where they fail to converge.

Two of these properties are of particular interest. First, the structural properties associated with “external arguments” are examined, that is, the question of where thematic subjects (as opposed to clausal subjects) are base-generated. Drawing on evidence from Japanese lexical causatives, a “split-VP” structure is argued for, in which external arguments (Agents, Causers) are generated in the specifier of a projection which marks the introduction of an event argument (hence termed EventP). Below EventP are case-checking positions for underlying objects and indirect objects (internal arguments) as well as the projection in which internal arguments are base-generated (“BaseP”). “Verbs” on this approach consist of a “Base” head in combination with an “Event” head, and the decomposition of verbal meaning into “primitives” such as CAUSE, HAVE or BE is assumed. In support, a correlation is drawn between the existence of the predicate “have” in a language and the possibility of a double object/double complement alternation, adducing evidence from Irish, Tagalog and DinŽ, as well as Japanese, Georgian and English.
Secondly, the question of morphological nominative case is considered. Nominative marking on an NP is typically taken to be an indicator of subjecthood, nonetheless, there are constructions in which a nominative-marked argument appears to be in object position. Such nominative objects in Icelandic are examined in detail, and a mechanism for assigning morphological case is proposed which modifies standard assumptions about the strict connection of morphological case with structural position. Given such modification, the question of NP-licensing is re-examined, with an eye to dispensing with abstract case entirely; the apparent effects of abstract case assignment (and, incidentally, Buzio’s Generalization) are seen to be the result of the interaction of the mechanism governing morphological case assignment with the Extended Projection Principle.
Thesis supervisor: Dr. Alec P. Marantz


I thought about writing my acknowledgments in rhyming verse, but my powers of lyric expression didn't seem equal to the task. I'll just have to try to express my heartfelt gratitude to the people who have helped me through these last four years in plain prose, and hope that is enough to get the message across. I'm probably going to go on for a while, as it isn't often that one gets the opportunity to formally acknowledge the important people, so brace yourselves. Of course, the usual disclaimer applies, with respect to the dissertation.

I'll start in the time-honored fashion with my advisor. Alec Marantz has been a bright spot throughout my graduate career at MIT, but I didn't even begin to appreciate the true extent of his abilities as a scholar and a person until he shouldered the difficult task of shepherding me through the process of writing a thesis. It goes without saying that most of the good of the thesis is the direct result of suggestions and insights of Alec’s; his contributions are to be found throughout. Much of the thesis relies upon a view of lexical organization that originates with him, and the rest of it centers on a notion of dependency relations in syntax that also originates with him. A large part of my linguistic education has been accomplished while meeting with Alec; he is responsible for any steps I have made away from my tendency to oversimplify issues. He always kept pushing me to ask the harder question, make the stronger prediction, pursue a correlation or hypothesis and pin it down properly; he read some of the roughest prose I've ever churned out without undue predjudice. I'm greatly indebted to him for being the rigorous, vital and horrendously keen intellect that he is, as well as a generous and thoughtful friend who was always ready to help with anything from moving day to conference organizing. I couldn't have asked for anything more in the way of a guide through this last year. And he has a cute cat, too. Hi Gnocchi!

The other members of my committee, Ken Hale, Shigeru Miyagawa and David Pesetsky, are to be equally thanked and lauded. Ken, one of the busiest people I have ever met, has always had time, energy and interest to spare for me and my work, for which I cannot thank him enough. His insight into and work on the underlying structure of linguistic representations has been the core around which a large part of the thesis is built, and it has been a privilege to work with him. I count myself very fortunate to have had the benefit of his vast experience of language and his ability to pick out and dissect the genuinely interesting part of a given piece of linguistic analysis. (I’d also like to thank him for introducing me to the Band in Boston and the Lowell fiddle contest; we’ll have to go for second prize next year, eh Ken?)

Shigeru is responsible for introducing me to the vast and intricate world of the Japanese causative, and helping me negotiate my way through it. The discussion of “word”-level processes and the view of l-syntax presented here was directly inspired by his work on the lexical causative, and the discussion of the case alternations in analytic causatives owes much to his comments and suggestions and knowledge of the literature. I always looked forward to my meetings with Shigeru; discussions with him were inevitably animated and fascinating, and I always came out of them feeling inspired and eager to get to work.

When he heard my avowed intention of exploring the properties of dative-nominative experiencer subject constructions for my syntax generals paper, David suggested to me that the interaction of the Extended Projection Principle and Case Theory would prove to hold the key to the mysteries of said constructions, and that insight has been the focus of much of the better work I accomplished in the intervening two years. This is typical of discussion with David: ideas, insights and analyses flow out of him in a never-ending stream, any one of which contains enough intruiging and thought-provoking material to keep a student busy for months. His suggestions and counterproposals led to much fruitful work and kept me honest. Also thanks to David for many truly great lectures.

I am very grateful to all my committee, and indeed to all the faculty who’ve had to educate me at MIT for their tolerance of my lousy work habits, and of course for their stimulating and exceptional classes. Irene Heim valiantly attempted to arouse in me a true understanding of semantics, and was a valued member of my generals committee. Jim Harris was also on my generals committee, and brought the interesting world of Spanish clitics to my attention; when I get back to the morphological end of things I look forward to attacking the paradigm from Mexican Spanish that he pointed out to me. Also thanks to Jim for his cheery execution of the registration officer’s duties. Morris Halle and Michael Kenstowicz gave great and memorable phonology lectures, and Morris was largely responsible for directing and encouraging the work I did for my morphology generals. Nothing can match the excitement and feeling of privilege one gets from being Noam Chomsky’s student; getting to think about and discuss Minimalism as it came hot off the presses in class was a highlight of my time here. Wayne O’Neil was a constant reassuring presence, and presided over a very entertaining and informative Survey class. Jim Higginbotham, Ken Wexler and Utpal Lahiri gave me a feel for the formal underpinnings of the field, high on a big TM, the memory of which is reassuring to someone who occasionally worries about slipping away from the realm of truly provable hypotheses. Finally, Suzanne Flynn introduced me to the world of academia from the teacher’s perspective, for which I am ever grateful—it turns out I enjoy it very much.

The excellence of the MIT program rests largely on the incredible environment of intense and impassioned discussion which the teachers and most especially the students create. A huge chunk of my education has been the result of such discussions; my fellow students are at least as responsible for my current state of linguistic understanding as my professors. My classmates, to begin with, couldn’t be bettered.

Masha Babyonyshev helped with the Russian in Chapter 3 and did sterling last-minute proofreading; she has been a terrific and ticklish classmate. Andrew Carnie’s insights and suggestions are to be found in enormous abundance throughout this thesis. Indeed, his constant companionship, support and collaboration have been indispensable in getting this thing written at all. He was always there to help me out with anything, from discussing the latest worrying implication, often at 2 am, to reassuring me in moments of crisis, to picking up my car from our buddies Phil and Pat. He is a scholar in the truest sense of the word and has inspired in me a sense of responsibility to language that I hope lasts the rest of my life. He has made this year as fun and rewarding as it could possibly be. I can’t thank him for everything here, but I just have to add thanks for teaching me to dance, Drewling. Snork. *click*. Do not. Thanks to erstwhile classmate Shawn Kern for lots of good pool and pinball. Masa Koizumi has been extremely helpful with comments and Japanese judgements; a large chunk of Chapter 3 relies on his work as well. Renate Musan has been a semantic resource for four years; in addition, thanks to her I know the meaning of Strumpf. Orin Percus’ cheerful and intelligent presence has made four tough years less tough and more thespian; he also is to be thanked for gentle semantic guidance, dinners in the North End, and evenings of charades. Colin Phillips couldn’t have been bettered as a conference co-organizer, and should be thanked for being his constantly helpful, informative, and good-natured friendly self; also, it is largely thanks to his tireless MITWPL efforts that the standard of living around here has skyrocketed. Finally, Hubert Truckenbrodt, in addition to being a great and fun housemate for two years, helped me with dative experiencers and was very polite to me about T-shirts. They all made for a stimulating and intense four years, and I’ll miss them very much.

Although Ling-91 are an exceptional bunch, students from other years were at least as important in seminars, support, ling-lunches, helpfulness, and general ambiance-forming. With respect especially to this thesis, I owe a big debt of thanks to Norvin Richards, who gave me exhaustive comments and endless encouragement. Jonathan Bobaljik also is to be thanked for his extensive thoughtful and constructive input, as well as for being a terrific housemate and friend, always generous, relaxed, and supportive, despite living at a pace that I’m sure would kill most of us. MarthaJo McGinnis has been a boon for the last two years as a housemate, friend, and fellow worrier-about-weird-cases; late-night discussions with her about Georgian and Icelandic and other important life-issues have lightened my life, even if she does cut her bananas funny. Uli Sauerland was another great housemate and climbing and tennis partner. Thanks to Pilar Barbosa for sharing this thesis-writing year with me, and commiserating regularly over the difficulty of it all. Thanks to Rob Pensalfini for friendliness and tokens. Carson SchŸtze deserves thanks for case comments and other discussions. Chris Collins taught a great recitation in baby syntax, as well as providing constructive discussion during my morphology generals. Danny Fox, Judy Baek, Ayumi Ueyama and Hiroyuki Ura have all been a help with data and discussion at various points. Akira Watanabe was a great TA for the Philosophy of Language, and has helped me at other points with discussion and comments. Rolf Noyer helped me greatly with my morphology generals paper. Hamida Demirdache, Kumiko Murasugi and Tom Green were reassuring and fun housemates during my first summer here. Other MIT students I have to thank include Tony Bures, Kathleen Williams (another worthy housemate), Hooi-Ling Soh, Vaijayanthi Sarma, David Braun, Taylor Roberts, Dylan Tsai, Seth Minkoff, Michelle Sigler, Susi Wurmbrand, Diana Cresti and Ingvar Lšfstedt. Maya Honda is to be remembered for chocolate and compassion, and Andrea Zukowski for friendship and many delicious and fun evenings. Hi Leo! The administrative staff have smoothed life around here out as much as possible, their work on our behalf is really appreciated. Thanks to Bev Stohl for racquetball, cheer, chocolate and not spitting on me too much, Rachel Pearl for endless money requests and song, Jen Purdy for thesis trivia and softball, Jamie Young for making NC available, and Wendy Webber for her, uh, sewing machine. I know there are many I haven’t remembered to include, please accept my apologies for not naming you specifically: thanks to everybody in the MIT linguistics community.

There are many linguists outside MIT who have been crucial in getting me to this point as well, of course. I’ll start with my Memorial Unversity of Newfoundland faculty, who introduced me with great ability and enthusiasm to this wonderful field. Jim Black taught me my first linguistics class, and had me hooked immediately. Derek Nurse, Aleks Steinberg, Harold Paddock, Vit Bubenik and Sandra Clarke all taught entertaining, challenging courses that made my undergraduate career a memorable experience. The main reason I am a linguist at this moment is the series of syntax classes I took from Leslie Saxon, which introduced me to rigorous syntactic argumentation and the excitement of formal linguistic theory in the best possible way. She was also a terrific help with the Athapaskan herein; I only wish I had consulted her sooner. Many many thanks, Leslie.

Other linguists who have helped me along the way with comments and encouragement include Hšskuldur Thr‡insson (always patient with last-minute demands for data), Dianne Jonas, Eir’kur Ršgnvaldsson, Joan Maling, Alice Davison, Stan Dubinsky, Keren Rice, Liz Cowper, Betsy Ritter, Caroline Heycock, Andrea Moro, Sabine Iatridou, Lisa Travis, Liliane Progovac and audiences at the various conferences I’ve attended over the last four years. Elizabeth Pyatt helped especially with the Old Irish in Chapter 2. I would like to thank my co-author and friend Rosanne Pelletier for gently introducing me to the world of conference presentations and for much help, support and fun in the intervening years, as well as invaluable last-minute proofreading. Thanks-aNDi!

Surprisingly enough, I’ve found time for a pretty wide variety of extra-curricular activities, which has made my life and play-time contentful and rewarding, as well. I’d like to thank the potters (especially Chin and Geoff), climbers (especially Lori and Deb, great friends, both), softball players (especially Amy), musicians (especially the Band in Boston) and dancers (all of you, love you all). These people have been as important to my years here as the more extensively-discussed linguists above; I will miss them tremendously, and hope to stay in touch at least with the skills they taught or learned with me.

From my pre-MIT life, there are friends who will always be with me and who I dearly love; they are part of my family and thank them for being there: Brenda, Cass, Robin, Dawn, Toby and Maren.

And finally, there is my family: my parents, Carolyn and Peter and my brother, Jonah, for whom no offering of thanks could ever be adequate, just all my love.

Table of Contents
Title Page 1

Abstract 3

Acknowledgements 5
Chapter 1: “Subject” 13
1.1 A syntactic “subject” position: agents vs. “subjects” 15

1.2 “Subject” property mismatches 18

1.3 Conclusion 23
PART I: Projection 25
Chapter 2: Where don’t they come from? 27
2.1. Against Subjects in Spec-IP 28

2.1.1 Conjunction of actives and passives 28

2.1.2 The behavior of modals:I¡as a raising category 31

2.1.3 Reconstruction effects 32

2.1.4 VSO order: against the Spec-IP generation of subjects 33 Excursus: Old Irish and the ISH 36 The Old Irish Verbal System 37 Verb movement to I¡and C¡ 38 Preverbs 39 Object enclitics 42 Subjects in Spec-IP 43

2.1.5 Conclusion 45

2.2 Subjects in Expanded Infl 45

2.2.1 Tense and modals as raising categories 47

2.2.2 Subject trace in VP: Huang (1993) 48

2.2.3 Complement to causative “have” 49

2.2.4 Against generation in AgrOP 52

2.2.5 Conclusion 54

Chapter 3: VPs, l-syntax and external arguments 55
3.1 In support of stacked structures 56

3.1.1 Overt object movement and ECM 58

3.1.2 Overt object movement in simple clauses: the adjacency condition 61

3.1.3 Quantifier float and the base position of objects in Japanese 69

3.1.4 Consequences of adopting stacked structures 70 Case Positions and q-positions 71 Getting the external/internal distinction from the syntax 72 External vs. internal VPs and adverb type: Bowers (1993) 77

3.1.5 The story so far 81

3.2 Events, agents and verbs 83

3.2.1 L-syntax: deriving the lexicon 83 How many theta-roles? Hale and Keyser's question 83 VoiceP, unaccusatives and agents 86 “Kill” as “cause to die”: event structure 87

3.2.2 Lexical Japanese causatives: l-syntax and Late Insertion 89 “Lexical” vs. “analytic”: interpreting V+sase 90 The “Elsewhere” rule: Late Insertion 92 Lexical causatives: realizing CAUSE 96 More evidence for Late Insertion 100

3.2.3 EventP as a delimiter: why non-compositional interpretation? 101

3.2.4 Properties of EventP 102 “Primitives”: A, N, P 102 The “syntax” of l-syntax 104

3.2.5 “Give” = CAUSE x HAVE y 106 The preposition HAVE 107 “Have” = BE + HAVE 108 Existentials, possessives and locatives: Freeze (1992)111 Definiteness vs. HAVE 113 Languages without HAVE 115 Irish 115 DinŽ 117 Tagalog 119 Languages with HAVE 122 English 122 Japanese 122 Georgian 125

3.2.6 Some implications 126 Auxiliaries: 126 Causative and experiencer have 128 Other possible complements of EventP: CP, TP 131 VP adverbials revisited 132

3.2.7 Conclusion 133

PART II: Licensing 135
Chapter 4: Realizing case 137
4.1 Case Theory 138

4.1.1 Case and the VP-Internal Subject Hypothesis 141

4.1.2 An Agr-based Case Theory 142

4.2 The case of the Icelandic experiencer 143

4.2.1 Dative-nominative experiencer subject constructions 143

4.2.2 Case in experiencer subject constructions 144

4.2.3 Structural nominative 145

4.2.4 Nominative in To? 147 Negative polarity items 147 Finiteness and tense 148

4.2.5 The Mechanics of case 150

4.3. Japanese causatives 152

4.3.1 The problem 154 Case alternations and the make/let distinction 154

4.3.2 “Make” vs. “Let” readings: syntactic facts 156 Biclausal -sase- 156 Passivization of “make” vs. “let” 157 Construal of “agent-oriented” adverbs 157

4.3.3 The analysis, part I: clause-bound case-marking 158 Prepositional vs. case-marking -ni 160 The MCP and the “make” causative 161

4.3.4 The analysis, part II: syntactic differences 162 The “let” causative: scope facts 165 The “agent-oriented” adverbs 165

4.3.5 Causee as matrix object 167 V+Cause—syntactic or morphological?: Terada 167 Passive and Causative 169

4.3.6 Scope of the causee: “make” causative 170

4.4 Conclusion: realization of case recap 171
Chapter 5: Case, the EPP, and having experiences 173
5.1 Burzio's Generalization and the EPP 174

5.1.1 Does Burzio’s generalization exist? 174

5.1.2 Case-assignment: no abstract case required 177 ECM and PRO: Activating Agr 178

5.2 Movement restrictions: Equidistance and Leapfrogging 180

5.2.1 Holmberg's Generalization 181

5.2.2 OS for case? 182

5.2.3 TEC+OS and dative-nominative constructions 183

5.2.4 A Split-VP and Equidistance 187

5.3 PRO and the EPP 189

5.3.1 Control vs. ECM revisited 189

5.3.2 Irish and the EPP 192

5.4 Auxiliaries, undercover agents, and other psychological problems 193

5.4.1 Mandatory agents and transitive verbs 194

5.4.2 Implicit agents and causative and auxiliary HAVE 196

5.4.3 HAVE and dative-nominative constructions diachronically 199 Irish psychological predicates 201 Psych predicates in other HAVEless languages 202 DinŽ: “subject-verb idioms” 203 Tagalog: a psychological problem 204 Getting HAVE 206 Incorporation and psych predicates 208

5.5 Conclusion 210

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